Exercise Rehabilitation for Cardiovascular Disease

In New Zealand there are 172,000 people living with heart disease, that's 1 in 20 adults! 1

Heart disease is still the leading cause of death, accounting for 33% of all deaths each year. 2

It is recommended that individuals who have suffered from any form of heart disease are recommended to attend cardiac rehabilitation to reduce the risk recurrent event or disease progression. 


Exercise is the cornerstone of cardiac rehabilitation due to the risk of inactivity being similar to that of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking combined. 3


Benefits of Cardiac Rehabilitation  

  • A 20-30% reduction in death rates from any cause 4,5
  • Reduction in premature death at up to 5 years after cardiac rehabilitation 6
  • Reduced symptoms - like angina, breathlessness and fatigue 7
  • Reduction in recurrent heart attacks
  • Improved adherence with preventative medications 7
  • Increased exercise performance 9
  • Improved health factors like cholesterol and blood pressure 8
  • Increases knowledge about heart disease and its management 10
  • Enhanced ability to perform activities of daily living 8
  • Improved health-related quality of life 8
  • Improved psychosocial symptoms 11
  • Reduced hospitalisations and GP visits 8
  • Increased ability to return to work or engage in leisure activities 12

Individuals Indicated for Cardiac Rehabilitation

  • The evidence is adequate to conclude that cardiac rehabilitation is reasonable and necessary in the following conditions:
    • Heart attack
    • Cardiac arrest
    • Atrial fibrillation
    • Coronary artery bypass graft
    • Coronary stenting
    • Heart failure
    • Heart transplant
    • Stable angina
    • Heart valve disease, repair or replacement
    • Peripheral artery disease
    • Those at risk of heart disease


1. Ministry of Health, 2015. NZ Health Survey: Annual update of key results 2014-2015. 2. Ministry of Health, 2015. Mortality and Demographic data 2013 (provisional). 3. Blair, 2009. Physical inactivity: the biggest public health problem of the 21st century. 4. Geol, 2011. Impact of Cardiac Rehabilitation on Mortality Following PCI. 5. Taylor, 2006. Mortality reductions in patients receiving exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation: how much can be attributed to cardiovascular risk factor improvements? 6. Suaya, 2009. Cardiac Rehabilitation and Survival in Older Coronary patients. 7. Jolliffe,2001. Exercise-based rehabilitation for coronary heart disease. 8. Stephens, 2009. Cardiac rehabilitation. 9. Taylor, 2004. Exercise-based rehabilitation for patients with coronary heart disease: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. 10. Clark, 2005. Meta-analysis: secondary prevention programs for patients with coronary artery disease. 11. Milani, 2007. Impact of cardiac rehabilitation on depression and its associated mortality. 12. Williams, 2006. Clinical evidence for a health benefit from cardiac rehabilitation: an update.